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Old 01-08-2011, 09:10 PM   #1
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Default Squat-ATG VS PARALLEL

I have been reading alot about ATG being really bad for the knees when going heavy, So when using a heavier weight parallel is better, I just though i would bring that topic up here at mab and get a discussion started.


Me-personally ive been squatting atg with no problems so have tons of other guys, SO WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK?
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:20 PM   #2
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According to Starting Strength by Rippetoe, NOT going low is bad for your knees. The reason being, going low creates a balance of forces around the knees, whereas not going to parallel will cause shear forces on the knees (as the hamstrings are not engaged) which damages them. As long as you engage the hamstrings and groin afflictively, it will strengthen your knees.

On a side note, what signifies parallel?
According to starting strength, parallel is not where your hamstrings are parallel to the ground, what certifies a low enough squat is when the upper crease on your legs is in line with your knees, which for most people the hamstrings tend to be below parallel.
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:24 PM   #3
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According to Starting Strength by Rippetoe, NOT going low is bad for your knees. The reason being, going low creates a balance of forces around the knees, whereas not going to parallel will cause shear forces on the knees (as the hamstrings are not engaged) which damages them. As long as you engage the hamstrings and groin afflictively, it will strengthen your knees.

On a side note, what signifies parallel?
According to starting strength, parallel is not where your hamstrings are parallel to the ground, what certifies a low enough squat is when the upper crease on your legs is in line with your knees, which for most people the hamstrings tend to be below parallel.
Dang good reply, this is what i agree with, when atg the knees are surrounded have the hamstrings to activate and help them out when parallel, your basicall sitting(not squatting) with weight on your back killing the knees
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:29 PM   #4
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Dang good reply, this is what i agree with, when atg the knees are surrounded have the hamstrings to activate and help them out when parallel, your basicall sitting(not squatting) with weight on your back killing the knees
Yeah I know what you mean! I think ATG also stretches the hamstrings which is always a good thing! Also the stretching and contraction of the hamstring out the hole actually adds to the power and hip drive.
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:35 PM   #5
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yeah bro i personally noticed the added hip drive
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Old 01-10-2011, 01:27 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by CoopDawg View Post
SO WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK?
When I was focusing on powerlifting, parallel is all that's required so that's what I did ( and added 400 pounds to my squat in 2 years ). Now I train for strongman, with a pro strongman, his philosophy is that when going heavy, doing high box squats is all that's required to build strength and going deeper just puts yourself at risk of injury, so now that's how I train too.
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Old 01-10-2011, 05:06 AM   #7
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I think it's a good question and discussion. Off the top of my head, I like being strong in all ranges of motion. If you don't train a particular range of motion, you don't get the positive adaptations associated. Or worse, you could detrain the various componenets (muscle, connective tissue, proprioceptors, etc) thus making you more vulneralbe to injury. That being said i think some peoplle try to go ATG with too much weight and or crappy form just to try and be badass and i dont think they need to. For me you should squat as far down as is comfortable (as long as it is at least parallel) so hip joint level or lower than knee joint, NOT so the leg looks like it is in a straight line, or so as the bottom of the leg is parallel with the floor. There is some really good stuff in this article about whether it is safe or not.

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There are several schools of thought on squat depth. Many misinformed individuals caution against squatting below parallel, stating that this is hazardous to the knees. Nothing could be further from the truth. (2) Stopping at or above parallel places direct stress on the knees, whereas a deep squat will transfer the load to the hips,(3) which are capable of handling a greater amount of force than the knees should ever be exposed to. Studies have shown that the squat produces lower peak tibeo-femoral(stress at the knee joint) compressive force than both the leg press and the leg extension.(4) For functional strength, one should descend as deeply as possible, and under control. (yes, certain individuals can squat in a ballistic manner, but they are the exception rather than the rule). The further a lifter descends, the more the hamstrings are recruited, and proper squatting displays nearly twice the hamstring involvement of the leg press or leg extension. (5,6) and as one of the functions of the hamstring is to protect the patella tendon (the primary tendon involved in knee extension) during knee extension through a concurrent firing process, the greatest degree of hamstring recruitment should provide the greatest degree of protection to the knee joint. (7) When one is a powerlifter, the top surface of the legs at the hip joint must descend to a point below the top surface of the legs at the knee joint.

Knee injuries are one of the most commonly stated problems that come from squatting, however, this is usually stated by those who do not know how to squat. A properly performed squat will appropriately load the knee joint, which improves congruity by increasing the compressive forces at the knee joint. (8,(9) which improves stability, protecting the knee against shear forces. As part of a long-term exercise program, the squat, like other exercises, will lead to increased collagen turnover and hypertrophy of ligaments. (10,11) At least one study has shown that international caliber weightlifters and powerlifters experience less clinical or symptomatic arthritis. (12) Other critics of the squat have stated that it decreases the stability of the knees, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Studies have shown that the squat will increase knee stability by reducing joint laxity, as well as decrease anterior-posterior laxity and translation. (13,14) The squat is, in fact, being used as a rehabilitation exercise for many types of knee injuries, including ACL repair. (15)

2 Ariel, B.G., 1974. Biomechanical analysis of the knee joint during deep knee bends with a heavy load. Biomechanics. IV(1):44-52.

3 High- and low-bar squatting techniques during weight-training. Wretenberg P; Feng Y; Arborelius UP, Med Sci Sports Exerc, 28(2):218-24 1996 Feb

4 An analytical model of the knee for estimation of internal forces during exercise. Zheng N; Fleisig GS; Escamilla RF; Barrentine SW, J Biomech, 31(10):963-7 1998 Oct

5 Biomechanics of the knee during closed kinetic chain and open kinetic chain exercises. Escamilla RF; Fleisig GS; Zheng N; Barrentine SW; Wilk KE; Andrews JR Med Sci Sports Exerc, 30(4):556-69 1998 Apr

6 A comparison of tibiofemoral joint forces and electromyographic activity during open and closed kinetic chain exercises. Wilk KE; Escamilla RF; Fleisig GS; Barrentine SW; Andrews JR; Boyd ML Am J Sports Med, 24(4):518-27 1996 Jul-Aug

7 Chandler TJ and Stone MH. (1991) The squat exercise in athletic conditioning: a review of the literature. NSCA Journal. 13(5): 58-60.
8 Hsieh, H. and P.S. Walker. 1976. Stabilizing mechanisms of the loaded and unloaded knee joint. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 58A(1):87-93.

9 Uhl, T.L. and P.V. Loubert. 1990. Axial compression effect on anterior displacement of the in vivo tibeofemoral joint. Masterís thesis, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

10 Shankman, G. 1989. Training guidelines for strengthening the injured knee: basic concepts for the strength coach. NSCA Journal. 11(4):32-42.

11 Tipton, C.M., Matthes, R.D., Maynard, J.A. and Carey, R.A. 1975. The influence of physical activity on ligaments and tendons. Medicine and Science in Sports. 7(3):165-175.

12 Herrick, R.T., Stone, M.H. and Herrick, S. 1983. Injuries in strength-power activities.
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Old 01-10-2011, 05:17 AM   #8
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Provided you affectively engage the hamstrings you shouldnt damage your knees. But affectively engaging the hamstrings requires squats with excellent form, things as simple as curving your back instead of maintaining the arc causes your hamstrings To not engage properly and you can hurt yourself.
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Old 01-10-2011, 12:54 PM   #9
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Many misinformed individuals caution against squatting below parallel,

Yeah, immediately calling people who disagree with you misinformed seems to be a common tactic of cults too, no thank you.
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Old 01-10-2011, 01:50 PM   #10
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I have been reading alot about ATG being really bad for the knees when going heavy, So when using a heavier weight parallel is better, I just though i would bring that topic up here at mab and get a discussion started.

Me-personally ive been squatting atg with no problems so have tons of other guys, SO WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK?
I have a strange body type so even hamstrings to calves I am only a bit below parallel. So in a sense I train close to ATG on every set.

I will say that if you have a weak back and are a beginner, I wouldn't focus on training ATG for several months. My back tends to round the last few inches of a deep, deep squat.

I will also say that stopping high is uber bad, from what I understand. I would wager that many squat injuries come from overtraining 1/4 and 1/2 squats.

I think a squat should feel somewhat natural. Many times young trainees land-lock themselves by overthinking a squat and turn it into this mechanically clunky and dangerous lift. When you can squat and have it feel natural, and when you have reached at least a 185 pound squat for reps, I would say you can start to play around with lower than parallel depths.

Off topic, running did a world more damage to my knees than squatting ever will. I have great knees, and an amazingly strong lower back from squatting.
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